Saturday, June 09, 2018
First Look at First Man
Almost fifty years after the fact, Hollywood has finally produced a biopic on Neil Armstrong. First Man covers the years from 1961 to 1969, when Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface.
Why was Armstrong the first astronaut to step onto the moon? The official story given to the public is because he was closest to the door of the lunar lander. But there's more to it. Deke Slayton, head of the astronaut office during the Apollo era, assigned crews to the missions. By tradition, the backup crew for one mission would be the main crew for the third mission after that, although changes were sometimes made. Armstrong was on the backup crew for Apollo 8. When the crew was up for Apollo 11, Armstrong was named commander because of his seniority in the astronaut program. Knowing the historic nature of the mission, Slayton arranged for Armstrong to be the first out because his lack of ego would make him better able to withstand the aftermath of the mission.
Still, Armstrong appeared to be tailor-made for the honor. He was a Korean War veteran, a Navy aviator, but a civilian at the time of the moon shot. Armstrong had a degree in aeronautical engineering and worked as a test pilot for NACA, the precursor of NASA. His civilian status was what kept him out of the first astronaut selection for Project Mercury, but Project Gemini welcomed him in 1962, despite his application missing the deadline. The fact that he was the first civilian astronaut to travel in space had no bearing on his Apollo 11 role, but the idea was appealing to enough people to stick around for 50 years.
First Man is set to open October 12. (via Tastefully Offensive)